HUNDREDS of children at risk of sexual exploitation in Birmingham may not have been identified or properly recorded, a councillor has claimed.

Official figures show that 289 youngsters are currently deemed as at risk of CSE in the city, which has a population of more than a million.

Yet neighbouring Coventry has recorded 236, despite having only a third of the population of its neighbour.

Posed by model

Ed Ruane, who has responsibility for children’s services at Coventry City Council, says the figures may be proof that potentially hundreds of ‘at risk’ children in Birmingham are not being identified properly by police and social workers

“Coventry’s latest quarterly figures show there are about 236 children at risk of CSE, but Birmingham is at 289,” he said.

“Given that Birmingham is three or four times the population size of Coventry, how can the figure for Birmingham be a true reflection of the numbers really at risk?

“I’ve raised it numerous times with professionals in terms of senior people within the police and councils. Nobody seems to be able to give me a good reason for what seems to be a huge disparity.

“We know CSE is a hidden crime, but it appears to more of a hidden crime in some areas than others across the West Midlands, and the figures clearly highlight the level of disparity.”

Ed Ruane

The numbers of children at risk of CSE in the West Midlands’ seven local authority areas are published quarterly by the ‘See Me Hear Me’ campaign.

“The information is gathered from all seven metropolitan councils and published on a quarterly basis,” said Councillor Ruane.

“The most noticeable thing is that – and this has gone on now for quite a few years – there continues to be disparity in the figures."

Coventry has done a lot of proactive work around CSE, he added.

“For example, why are we picking up young girls drunk out their heads in this particular area at 2am or 3am in a really distressed state?” he said.

“What on earth are they doing here when they live the other side of the city? Who has dropped them off here? What’s brought them here?"

Picture posed by model

Return-home interviews are also scrutinised in terms of identifying potential offenders, he said, as well as mapping of problem areas and sites, including hotels.

The campaigning councillor said a big concern was that no so-called hotel ‘test-purchases’ had been carried out in the West Midlands by police.

“West Midlands Police is yet to carry out any ‘test purchase’ at hotels, where a plainclothes officer goes to a hotel with a young girl who’s underage and pays with cash,” he said.

“Quite a number of other police forces have done this but we’ve yet to do so, even though we’ve had concerns about certain hotels, not just in Coventry but also in Birmingham.

“The Birmingham Mail uncovered a police report from a few years ago that identified 17 hotels where CSE was happening. Have the police since gone back and done any test purchases?"

The Birmingham Mail asked West Midlands Police if it had ever carried out hotel ‘test-purchases’.

A press office spokesman said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on whether we do, or do not, use this technique.”


Birmingham: 289 (population 1,124,600)

Coventry: 236 (352,900)

Solihull: 156 (278,889)

Wolverhampton: 152 (249,470)

Sandwell: 123 (308,063)

Walsall: 120 (269,323)

Dudley: 109 (312,925)